Death of a salesgirl (metaphorically speaking, of course)


Dec. 14, 2010 at 6:14 a.m.
Updated Dec. 16, 2010 at 6:16 a.m.

Ah, Christmas. Once again that most magical time of the year is upon us and along with it the decorating, the eggnog, the caroling, the presents, the eggnog, the sweets.

The eggnog.

But believe it or not, Christmas isn't always the most wonderful time of the year for everyone.

Wait. What's that? You believe it not?

Well, gather around children. Your 'ol Auntie Aprill wants to tell you a very special Christmas story.

Once upon a time (1998) in a land far, far away (Ohio), there lived a girl who loved Christmas. Every December, she fell in love with all the bright, twinkling lights and the hustle and bustle of the season. She'd wrap presents, sing Christmas songs, bake cookies (OK, well, technically her mother would bake the cookies since the girl was banned from the kitchen after the Great Exploding Oven Incident of 1995, but you get the idea).

This particular December, however, was a little bit different. See, the girl had recently gotten a job at a small unnamed-for-legal-reasons department store. Being 17, it was her first real job, and needless to say, she was a bit overwhelmed (although I guess I just said it so it wasn't all that needless. Hmm, come to think of it, that is a really useless phrase. I mean, if it's needless to say, then you don't have to say it, but everyone always says "needless to say," followed by saying exactly what didn't apparently need to be said. Shouldn't people just say "needless to say" and stop there? But I digress. Back to the story).

The girl was slowly learning the ropes of retail, when suddenly it was Christmas Eve and she, being the low salesperson on the totem pole, was nominated to work that day, along with her co-worker, who for our purposes here, we'll call Bitter Jane (mainly because Horrible Example of a Human Being Jane is too long). Being one of the biggest shopping days of the year, the store had extended its hours, and at 6 a.m. sharp, the girl was ready and waiting behind her counter.

What happens next, kids, is ... well, it's a bit too disturbing for small ears. So some details have been modified.

All day long, a stampede of last-minute shoppers wreaked havoc on the store and the girl's emotional stability. Having to work multiple departments at once (since Bitter Jane, who was older, felt her age qualified her to do absolutely nothing but file her nails), the girl ran around trying to help as many customers as she could. Alas, their numbers were just too many, and soon the customers got impatient, calling her colorful names like "Person of Low Intelligence!" and "Female Dog!"

The girl trudged on throughout the day, advising clueless dads what perfumes their teenage daughters might like, ringing up huge sales only to then be handed a mountain of coupons and having to start over again and even trying on clothes for a grandmother who didn't know her granddaughter's size, but thought the girl looked about the same size and as such, would she be a dear and try on these 30 sweaters?

She plastered a smile on her face as customers glared at her and asked her in not-so-polite tones if she could please hurry the Hades up. And she tried to be cheerful as she wished them a Merry Christmas on their way out as they pointedly ignore her.

By 9 p.m., as the last customer stomped out the door, the girl slumped to the ground, exhausted. It was then and there that she vowed to someday go to journalism school, move to Texas, get her own bi-weekly column and then four years after starting that column, write one reminding people to be kind at Christmas, especially to the stressed out and overworked salesperson behind the counter (OK, maybe she didn't vow that EXACT thing, but, you know, something along those lines).

And do you know who that girl was, kids?

Ugh. No. It wasn't Allison Miles.

It was me.

And so, in fulfilling that vow I made to myself all those years ago, please be kind this holiday season to your friendly neighborhood salespeople. Working at a store during the holidays is a tough job, and it's no fun on the customer's end to stand in long lines and battle large crowds. But we can all make it a little easier on both of us and help keep the Christmas spirit alive by being patient and maybe even smiling once in awhile.

It's the most wonderful time of the year, folks. Let's act like it.

Aprill Brandon is a reporter for the Advocate. Needless to say.



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